COTE DE TEXAS: A Design Lesson: Perfect Proportions ala Kathryn Ireland

A Design Lesson: Perfect Proportions ala Kathryn Ireland


SORRY!   I accidently posted this story after I had written a few paragraphs and had no clue I had done so!  Thanks for being understanding.   I’ve added a lot to this story, so if you read parts of it before, give it a second read!!

Interior Designer Kathryn “M” Ireland has put together a few How-To-Decorate short videos which she posts on her web site and instagram.  I was watching them the other day – “How To Decorate With Accessories” – and I was struck by the way she designs. 

Kathryn has a very casual style which has remained constant throughout the years:

One of Kathryn’s first designs from decades ago.

A photo of a house decorated by her from the early 1990s is almost indistinguishable from a house she designed last year.

A brand new Ireland design.

Her classic style is part English Country Manor and part Southern Californian Beach.  She uses antique furniture mixed with fabulously designed upholstered furniture, curtains, rugs, and piles of pillows.

Two of her How-To videos that I watched made me huge impact on me for a reason that I really don’t think much about – but, as a designer and blogger,  should:  Proportion.

The two videos were filmed in her showroom/studio where she has set up a large space like a drawing room, right next to a garage where 2 men create her hand screened fabrics!  I had NO idea her fabrics were made right in her office!!  I assumed they were hand-screened overseas in France or England.  But, no.  There, in her studio space, on an extended table – yards and yards of Belgian linen have cans of paint poured over them – thus creating her fabulous fabrics.

The showroom/studio space is relatively new.   She moved here just a few years ago in order to consolidate all aspects of her work into one place:  showroom, sales, shipping & receiving, sewing soft goods, and manufacturing her fabrics.   The space was also created to double as a destination where she can entertain with both large and small events and it includes a small catering kitchen.  It is also where she can host her very popular Design Camps.

On the showroom side, the ceilings are double height with skylights.  The paneled walls are cream with gray stripes and a large, antique pink rug anchors the space.   She has set it up as a drawing room, complete with a piano (she says every house needs three things, a sewing machine, a piano, and a piles and piles of books.   OK, I am lacking two of  her VIP items!!)

For the first How-To-Design-With-Pillows, she strips her large slipcovered sofa and creates different looks with different throws and pillows.  But what struck me immediately and very viscerally was her innate sense of proportion.  She sizes up a room and what it needs – without any ruler or rule.  It’s all instinct and she never second guesses herself.  It was amazing to watch her in action.

First she takes a cotton throw and folds it so that it just perfectly fits over the back of her slipped covered sofa.  How many times have you fought with a throw and just gave up because you couldn’t get it right?

Katherine gets the proportion of the throw to the sofa just perfectly, the very first time.

Here is Kathryn putting on the throw.  She has folded it perfectly so it fits – just so – and then she tucks it into the seat.  And here is where the proportion comes in, she uses a throw that covers the entire back.   If not, she folds a smaller one just so.   The proportion is perfect. 

In one video, she played around with different pillow combinations.  She said – the large pillows should be on the corners – to anchor the sofa.  Exactly.  Very well put. 

On pillows Kathryn says this: “A 24-inch and then a 21-inch, and then a bolster. It’s all about proportion.”

She also points out that the pillow fill is very important, especially the quality of the feathers.  And you could see how wonderful her pillows were, soft and downy.  On her web site, the covers come with the pillow and the fill is 90/10.   The reasonable price is well worth the cost of the fill.    Kathryn says to be sure to have the zipper on the hidden side.  Look how perfect this arrangement is.  It’s so Kathryn. It’s not about the fabrics, but the size and the fill.   And, NO karate chop!!  Just say no to the chop, she said.

I found this answer from Kathryn in an interview that told me I was on the right trail:

What turns you on in design?


In the How-To video,  she settled on this pillow choice with two large blue pillows, two smaller cream ones and a large pattern pillow in the middle.  In the second video – How-To-Decorate-With-Accessories, she gets the showroom ready for a party – using accessories and flowers.  In this photo, notice the lamps and the oil painting of Kathryn’s grandmother behind the sofa.  Notice how tall the lamps are.  The proportion is perfect.  The painting is the exact correct size, just as the console is.  There is no second guessing with Kathryn.  It’s like she has an antenna in her brain that directs her.   Then, notice the one large painting behind the sofa on the right side.  Again, it’s the perfect scale and the composition is also perfect – contemporary mixed with the English Country Manor look.   She flanks that sofa with two matching consoles with tall twin mirrors and two tall matching lamps.  Just perfect.


From the video, the finished showroom, with the tables decorated for the party.  You can see the back wall with the matching consoles and mirrors and lamps.  To the right is another sofa from her upholstery collection, with its beautiful lines.   I was just struck at how effortless it all was for her.  She took a warehouse full of pillows, accessories and chairs and art – and she pulled it all together.   The size of the paintings and lamps and the mirrors – are perfect.  They are large, but not comical.  They fit the tall ceilings.    The paintings and lamps and mirrors all came from Kathryn’s Santa Monica home which she recently sold. 


And for a party, Kathryn accessorized the main salon this way, with a few different tables and pillows.   The porteries hide the office areas which also doubles as the dining room.

The dining room in the studio set for a dinner party.

Here, in another photograph taken earlier – you can see how it was once decorated.  Again, the proportion of the large bookcase against the wall is perfect.  So is the size of the chandelier.  These two chairs were once in Kathryn’s living room. 

Another view – of how is was with tapestries on the wall.


In the How-To-Make-Handscreened-Fabric video, Kathryn takes us through her showroom filled with her fabrics.  Here she shows us her most popular fabric – ever – Suzani.  It takes 12 screens to print it because there are 12 colors in it. 

Here are the long, extended tables that the fabric lies on.  The screen is on top of it with the color poured onto it.  This reminds me of the story that Hillary Clinton told during the election – of her father working in his factory printing fabrics on long tables with screens!! 

This video of the print process is really worth watching – I’ll link all the videos at the end of this story.

And here are the different screens for all her different fabrics.  It’s amazing that she learned how to do this lost art – and that she makes her fabric right here in Los Angeles!  I always assumed the fabrics were made in Belgium or France, but no, they are made in this very humble factory, with just two men working a screen with paint on it. 


Additionally, there is a small catering kitchen with not one, but TWO red AGAs.  As a spokesman for AGA,  this makes perfect sense. 


The first time I really came to see how wonderfully Kathryn used proportions was during the filming of Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorators.  Why did Bravo ever cancel that fabulous show???  This Dallas bedroom was decorated using items that Houston’s Chateau Domingue’s Ruth Gay had driven up to Dallas in a huge truck.  Oh to die for that truck to come to my house!!!  Anyway – Kathryn redid this bedroom using a fabulous oversized antique map that was just the perfect size.  Another item was the bench at the end of the bed – overscaled but perfect for this large room that had been underfurnished.  The pillows on the bed were just perfect.  This was probably my favorite redo that Kathryn did on the Bravo show mainly because of the quality of furnishings brought to Dallas by Gay. 


Here is a house Kathryn did for a client which again shows her perfect sense for proportions.  Two large sofas, one with a textile on its back, flank a large mantel.  Over the mantel, she placed a round shape, which is a right foil to all the large rectangles in the room.  The striped rug is bold enough to accent the white sofas.  I love her lamps flanking the fireplace – with the red shades – large enough to make a statement and become the focal point.   I love this room!  It’s a favorite.

Apparently Kathryn has been making some big changes.  

She moved to her new studio space in 2014, creating out of its 8,000 sq ft., a space for all her work endeavors.  The studio is now listed for sale.   Another change involved her vacation house.

Years ago, Kathryn bought a farmhouse in the south of France.  Some time ago, Kathryn surprisingly bought a ranch in Ojai thinking she would sell her French farmhouse and would consolidate her life in California.   She redid the ranch and published one of her most popular books about the renovation.

But, Kathryn’s three boys objected to the sale of her French farm, so she sold the Ojai ranch to Reese Witherspoon instead.  


Kathryn’s large living room in the Ojai ranch showed off her perfect sense of proportion.   A tall Spanish painting graced the mantel and flanking it were cords of firewood.


Kathryn has spent every summer for almost 25 years at her farmhouse, La Castellane in France.  She has entertained all her friends and family there, including once having Barbra Streisand and Robert DeNiro.    She also hosted a series of successful design/yoga retreats there. 


Last year or so, it was announced in articles and Architectural Digest that her French farm was for sale.  In an interview, Kathryn revealed there was a property in her Scottish hometown that she was very interested in.    But, since then, nothing else was said of the farmhouse sale and the French house appears to be still be hers.  No recent word about her moving to Scotland either.   This summer, she again hosted her yoga/design retreats in France.

And then there is Kathryn’s famous Santa Monica house, where so many photoshoots for magazine articles occurred.  The  house was totally Kathryn, a laboratory which she often changed to show off  her latest fabric collections and professional associations like the one with AGA.  Two years ago, with her three sons now grown – and so handsome! – she sold the Santa Monica house and moved to a soft contemporary house in Venice.  The new house appeared in her latest book and a few magazine articles.  But, apparently, she has already moved on from that new house – it very recently sold.  Lots of changes!   I think all of us go through this when our nests are suddenly empty.  Statistically it is said that second houses last ten years.  Her French farmhouse has alaready lasted over 25.

For old times sakes, here’s a look at her old Santa Monica house, where the real estate photos show tons of rooms rarely seen.  It’s interesting to see how much the decor has changed through the years.  And, then we’ll look at her new house!


The facade of the Santa Monica house has completely changed over the years.  Originally, the 1920s Spanish house had bright blue shutters and a grass filled front yard bordered by a white picket fence.


Later, the shutters were painted a soft French blue.  The grass was removed to make the front yard a gravel filled courtyard.  In the center of the new garden, a tiled fountain with a turquoise urn became the focal point of the front facade.


The front courtyard with the newly installed Spanish fountain.  The ground is gravel, with seating areas made up of Kubu chairs.  Upstairs, the bedroom with a window box with orange flowers and French blue shutters overlooks the courtyard.   Besides installing the new front garden, Kathryn removed the window in the front window that leads to the living room and installed a French door, thereby facilitating the indoor outdoor feel of the house.

Another front view of the new fountain, with a bench piled high with Kathryn’s fabric pillows.  Through the French doors – you can now enter into the living room.

Inside, the front living room has seen several different designs during the years Kathryn lived here.  One of the early looks was two sofas, one striped, with two Matryn Bullard’s Suzani covered chairs.    Today, the oil painting of Kathryn’s grandmother is now in her studio/showroom.  I like this decor of the living room better than the ones that came afterwards.  At this time, the curtains were a classic pinch pleated version.

The living room – a collection of small antique pillows.  This is something that Kathryn rarely does today.  She mostly uses her own fabrics for pillows, and if she uses an antique pillow, it’s made from a more plain textile instead of a needlepoint. 


Later, she removed the second sofa and pushed these chairs over there.  Early on, Kathryn painted the wood floors white.  She noted that this was a good fix for wood floors that need refinishing.  And yes, I’m still grappling with this issue!!! 

Still later, Kathryn posed with a new arrangement.   The contemporary painting is, also, now in the studio.  She added a contemporary rug and new curtain panels on rings replaced the pinch pleated versions.   The two suzani chairs were removed when she added two different chairs wearing her fabrics.


Even later, she added another rug that is now in her new home’s master bedroom.   Originally there were windows here that looked over the front yard.  Later, Kathryn installed French doors that opened up the living room to the courtyard.  Actually, the house had some damage in an earthquake, which might have been the impetus to change the window out. 

The view from the courtyard into the living room through the new French doors. 


This is one vignette that never changed over the years – a gorgeous antique chest and mirror.  Kathryn kept these two pieces here for the duration.   These two pieces are not in her house that I could see.  To the right of this vignette is the Front Door foyer:

The entry with Spanish tiled floors.


Another view – it looks like Kathryn had to replace the floor, probably another casualty of the earthquake.  These white tiles are also in her kitchen.


Across from the front door and the living room is this alcove bordered by archways.  Kathryn’s collection of antique prints was hung without a ruler when she first moved in.  At one point, she added a runner to the stairs.


Another version with a later rug.   The stairs have a kilim rug runner.


Past the living room arch – is the dining room, located in the hall between the family room and kitchen.    Originally, Kathryn decorated this room with rust linen curtains,  French upholstered chairs and a large wood farm table.   The yellow check tablecloth is one of her more popular fabrics.   Through the French doors is the back yard terrace and pool.


Another view of the farm table and French chairs in the dining room back then.   Through the arch is the family room done then in yellow and red and rust fabrics.


The dining room today – with the family room on the left and kitchen on the right.   Against the left wall, two wood consoles and matching mirrors flank the arch.    These two mirrors are now in her studio/salon.    At some point, she took out the farm table and French chairs, using this oval contemporary pedestal table and  wood chairs instead.   She reuses this table and chairs and chandelier in her new contemporary (!) house.

The view back towards the front door foyer, and the living area with the center skirted table, and the stair hall.  
After Kathryn had moved here, she redid the kitchen several years later taking space from both the living and dining rooms.  She created this new dining room, repeating the arches found throughout the house.  I can’t figure out how the space used to look!  It seems as if the dining and living room always looked this way.  


Originally, the family room had a seagrass rug, and yellow and red fabrics.  Her famous patchwork fabric was used for curtains.   Earlier this small window was a French door.  Probably another earthquake casualty?   The fireplace in here was also damaged and Kathryn had to redo it.   I love the way this room was decorated.  It doesn’t seem dated to me at all – perhaps just the colorways are???     Imagine if it was done like this but in blues and greens, it would be great.

The family room today – is the haven for her three boys.   Her classic furnishings were replaced by these more contemporary ones now found in the room.


Another view of the family room.    Can’t say I like this arrangement too much compared to how it was before!   The couch overtakes the room, but obviously it is for the comfort of the boys and their friends.  

When Kathryn bought the house, the kitchen was smaller.   Above is a very rare, early view of the kitchen before the room was enlarged and the AGA was installed.   Kathryn says she no longer likes upper cabinets – she thinks they make spaces look smaller.


The remodeled kitchen – first it had a red AGA and shade.


A second decor.  Kathryn became the spokesman for AGA appliances and she changed out her red Aga for this turquoise one.  In  her studio/showroom, she installed two red AGAs in the catering kitchen.  Along with the new turquoise Aga, she put in a new shade in a turquoise colorway.  Must be nice to have free access to all her fabulous fabrics!  I think I would change out my bedding, curtains, and upholstery every few years!!


Upstairs, Kathryn’s bedroom was a showstopper.  The large canopy was done in a taupe fabric with red lining.  She kept this decor for almost 20 years.  The large lamps were perfectly proportioned to the canopy. 

A view of the canopy and the lamps.  In front was a sofa in an earlier fabric.

Kathryn and her boys in the iconic photo.  Who of us didn’t lust after this bed!?!?!

Along the right wall was a collection of antique oil paintings.  Her bedroom was always the most fabulous room in her house. 

The windows look out to the Juliet balcony. 


The canopy in the bedroom mirror. 

Later, Kathryn redid her entire room in her new fabric collection, Summer In France.  It was an instant hit.  She changed the curtains and the desk, but kept the mirror and sofa – now recovered.  

The bedroom windows.  This canopy bed did not make the move to the new contemporary house, but the sofa and coffee table did.


When Lindsey Lohan saw Kathryn’s bedroom – she asked her to copy it for her own bedroom on the Bravo show.


The guest room in her Santa Monica house was shown in many magazines.  Here was one early view of the decor in her green fabric.

Another view showed the pink chaise.


Later, she used this bed and the painting that came from the Ojai house.  This bed was then moved to the pool house that was once used as her office.  These lamps were later moved to her own bedroom and are now in the new house.

Later, after 20 something years, the room in the real estate brochure looks a little worse for wear compared to the photoshoots. 

Early on – there was no pool.  Once it was installed, the dining room opened to the terrace that looked over the pool.  At the end – was a bench.  Later, Kathryn would add a permanent Spanish inspired concrete bench.

The dining terrace today with the view toward the pool.   Notice the same fabric in the pink bedroom is here in green on the table.


The pool with the new permanent bench.  The poolhouse is at the right, along with the fireplace.


Here the cushions are the early yellow, not blue.


Looking back to the house.


The view towards the fireplace.


The fireplace and BBQ area has a gravel floor.


The guest house was decorated to celebrate Kathryn’s then new collection – the hugely popular Mexico Meets Morocco.  Again, the lamps and the canopy bed – perfect proportions.

Another view of the guest house.

Kathryn with her new collection for Scalamandre out on the concrete bench.

The Santa Monica house was sold, and judging by their comments on Instagram – her boys were going to miss the good times they all obviously had around the house and pool.  Kathryn’s new house was at first a surprise, but it makes perfect sense for a single woman, living alone.  Additionally, the change from an old, charming house to a new contemporary one was also a surprise but judging from someone who has been yearning for the same thing – I can understand the appeal.

And – the real surprise was that the new house that Kathryn bought and showed in her new book “Kathryn At Home” popped up for sale on the real estate blogs, and it quickly sold.  Now, it will be REALLY interesting to see where she moved to. 

Located in Venice, the house is painted white, with a turquoise front door.

The front door opens to a long hall with a staircase on the left.    The view leads all the way to the back garden.   The floors are light wood, the walls are stark white.

Scatter rugs lead the way down the long hall.   A guest room is at the right, along with the library.  At the left is small courtyard.

The library.  Two contemporary leather chairs sit across from Kathryn’s piano.  Long sheer curtains grace all the windows. 

A collection of photos line the walls. Books are in the cubbies.


The chairs are quite chic.   The courtyard garden lets in the sunlight.

The living area is one big room – with the kitchen and dining area all in the same space.  The doors open to the large garden.

The room is blue and white – with a new sofa.  The coffee table made the move, as did the striped chair.   The other chair is in her suzani print, blue colorway.  The blue and white is quite the surprise, but I love it!!  The curtains – hung from right below the ceiling are again, in perfect proportion to the walls.  The breezy striped, sheers create a feeling of movement and are a perfect choice, especially if the doors are kept open.

The dining table is contemporary, while the chairs made the move, as did the sconces.   The chandelier also made the move from her old house.

The kitchen with two pendants and an assortment of bar stools.   I love the lights over the shelves.   Surprise  - no AGA!

The textile is over the sofa back as usual.   Hanging on the walls is a collection of modern art.

For a photoshoot – a blue and white tablecloth.


I love all the blue denim and stripes.  I had no idea she liked blue and white. 


Another view of the kitchen and living area.


Kathryn posed in her new back yard which she created with gravel and plants.  The focal point is the large tree from which she hung rattan globes that light up.


At night, the back yard looks particularly beautiful all lit up.


A word about gravel.   When you lay the gravel, be sure it’s not thick – just deep enough to cover the dirt, otherwise you will sink into it when you walk.


For Traditional Home Kathryn showed off her new back yard.  So curious as to why she’s moved so soon?


A view of the tree with the lit rattan globes.

These days, no yard is complete with a fire pit.

Ready to go upstairs?

When you go back towards the front door and stairs, the guest room is at the left.


The guest room all done up in the Kathryn fabrics overlooks a private garden.


The bathroom with tiny turquoise tiles.

The front door lets in the light through the sheer shades. 

Contemporary wire banister.

A contemporary chandelier hangs over the tall, two story foyer.


The black bed made the move from the old house – but with all new fabrics in red and white from her collection for Scalamandre. 


The chaise is in the turquoise Greta fabric.  The balcony overlooks the front yard.


The view off the front balcony.


The bathroom with gray tiles and green glass tiles.


The next room is in red, white, and blue.

Upstairs laundry.

Down the long hall, like on the first floor, sheer curtains line the windows.   Drawings of her boys are on the right.


The master bedroom is done in Kathryn’s newest collection – The British Isles.  It’s quite a difference from her former bedroom, but it suits the style of the house.


A photoshoot produced this fabulous photo.  The colors look so different here.  She added the rug that was once in the Santa Monica living room.  I love the Scottish plaid textile from her new collection.   And again, the proportions prove perfect in the bedroom.  The tall curtains, the tall headboard – full and properly over-padded, the long sofa that fits exactly, the two chairs and round coffee table – this could not be any more perfect. 

Another textile on the bed. 

The master bathroom.


The balcony over the back garden.

Beautiful Kathryn in her new bed – with its perfectly proportioned headboard.  And trust me – getting proportions perfect is not easy.  It’s hard.  And it takes experience.  Watching her work in the videos showed me that Kathryn really has an ‘eye’ for it and it almost seems natural.  One of her many talents, for sure!

I hope you have enjoyed this look at proportions and Kathryn Ireland.

To see her How-To videos, go HERE.

To order her books just click on the cover you want:

My favorite Kathryn book – about the Ojai house:

Listen the Skirted Roundtable Interview with Kathryn Ireland HERE. 

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift? 


All vintage items at OKL – like this cool 50s croquet set – on sale 30% off HERE.



And pages and pages and pages of gifts for sale on OKL HERE.

In fact – ALL of OKL IS ON SALE NOW!!!!!!   HERE


  1. Vous n'etes pas serieux. Oui?

  2. Love love love her! I hated it when they dropped Million Dollar Decorators!

  3. Sorry, but it doesn't do anything for me. Your living room is much nicer!

    1. agreed. Wouldn't follow her on instagram even if I knew she was on.

    2. Totally agree with Julie & Daphne!! I would not have her as my designer if she were free ... think most of her work here was pretty awful!! Very sorry, Julie.

  4. What is the third thing a house needs?

  5. I always wonder how you can sit comfortably without having a fight with the cushions and ending up holding them on your lap or putting them on the floor.

    1. So do I! My female guests will gently place them to the side - the men will do all sorts of horrific things to them like sit on them (?!?), put them between their knees, or use them as coasters in their laps! I will sometimes just replace them with pillows I'm not emotionally attached to if I'm going to have a large number of people over for that very reason.


  6. Every week or two I refold and tuck in the throw on my sofa. I know where to fold it because I've folded it before. It therefore fits just right. I am a genius apparently.

  7. Proportions yes, but there are some things I don't get. To me, a throw is for when you're lying on the sofa reading or watching TV and you have a bit of a chill. I wouldn't have a throw just to have one. To me, they are very informal--the living room equivalent of bedroom slippers or a bathrobe--which I'm not sure is the look sought here.
    I also prefer sofas that don't require pillows--i.e., sofas that aren't extra-deep. So the pillows are there for the above-mentioned lying down to read and also for people who want back support, or for somebody short who would find the sofa too deep. I have some pillows au cas où, but not many. But that's just a question of what I find more comfortable as seating; others may prefer a pillow-filled sofa.
    I like that her sofas are not the same but have the same upholstery. Keeps it unified without being matchy-matchy.
    It is a very British look, with very large lamps, a heavy coffee table, lots of symmetry. Go big or go home.

  8. Thanks for the post! I love the color combinations and textures! While I agree that the paintings are in perfect scale with the room and furnishings I noticed that the staging of the accessories on all of the tales as well as the coffee table really suffered from a lack of larger scale pieces as well as too much space in the groupings. The overall effect seems a bit tentative.

  9. I'm curious what the 3rd thing a house needs! Thanks:)

    1. Pretty sure the 3 things were a sewing machine, a piano, and lots of books.

  10. Why is the word "hell" at the bottom of the post just before the comments?

    1. ...Trop de vin?

    2. She accidentally posted before completion...

    3. I think it said Hello. haha- this was a complete disaster!! and nightmare. it's happened before but I always caught it. this time Artie told me it had posted 24 hours later. I was so mortified that I refused to even read the comments so that I wouldn't get more upset at myself. And yes, the third thing WAS books! When I wrote that I couldn't remember what it was, I had to go relisten to the tape. Being 62 is taking a toll!!!

    4. Susan Lopez 2:09A.M.
      "She accidently posted before completion..." That made me laugh. It sounds like some sort of medical/sexual dysfunction. Ha...excuse me, so immature of me. I couldn't help it.

    5. Joni 5:15 P.M.
      Christy Brinkley is 62.

  11. I love tall lamps also. On the throw, I think it belongs stored in a chest or cabinet not on the sofa. When it is needed for warmth, just go get it out and use it then put it away. It is crazy to see designers trying to position/drape the throw for photos. I've seen people give classes on how to position the throw. Just store it away please.
    The third thing a home needs is a pet -- dog or cat. And lots of plants and fresh flowers. I will go find her videos and watch them. Great to see her fabric is hand made.

  12. I love Kathryn's innate ability to make a room look lived and loved, sophisticated yet approachable. That's where the sofa throws come in - they add a look of informality and also add a layer of pattern and texture that isn't obvious, but adds a certain richness. Bunny Williams is also well known for her use of multi patterned throws, esp antique suzannis.

  13. Everything would be rehearsed before filming to be sure it was size correct surely! Even though she is English she is giving a version of the look for an American market! The English Country look is eclectic and not everything matches or is at all precise and we don't always have throws in our sitting rooms, unless we have children or dogs! I look upon cushions firstly as decoration, secondly as occasional support, but their quality and type give many clues to the owner's taste and personality! You can define a home by them!

    1. That post appeared just before this one, "Mistakes, I've made a few." It was supposed to be the beginning of this post. It has been taken down...and it did have some very illuminating comments Joni probably did not want to stay up.

    2. no. the comments stayed on. again - total disaster!!!!

    3. Joni,
      Gloria's correct: a couple of the comments that were on the post before you fixed it are now gone; some are still here. Of course it's your right to remove whatever you want. It's your party.

  14. Current title: "Design Lesson: Proporiton"
    Proposed new title: "Woman takes a bunch of mismatched stuff she owns, including lots of leftover pillows and a throw, and puts it in a room."

    1. Sheila - haha. NO!! that's just not true. all those pillows are for sale on her web site. that is her look.

    2. To Joni,
      That was just my little joke. That was a comment I had made on the original post which you took down. That particular room that you were showing felt like something any numbr of us could do if we had a bunch of stuff sitting in a pile waiting to be arranged in a room. I know it's her look. I feel like I could do what she did in that room; maybe I'm just a really good decorator...ha!

    3. P.S. Loved Kathryn on t.v. by the way. She is a hoot.

  15. I absolutely love Katheryn Ireland! Definitely curious about the third thing.... and "hell?" at the end of the post. =]

    Regardless thanks Joni for the post -- I love everything KMI does -- just makes a room look like a real home. Plus she was a riot on Million Dollar decorators, I wish she (and Jaqueline) had their own show!


  16. Thanks for posting Joni! If we're talking proportion, what's with the sofa at the end of the room - looks tiny to me, but maybe it's the angle of the photo?? It's fun to see the different patterns, pillows, and textures used though ... I always look forward to Cote de texas posts!!

    1. well - it's a showroom, of course. those are prototypes of the upholstered furniture she sells. so they are on the sales floor. it's not going to be a perfect home. but, i don't think she is a perfect housekeeper either. i just love her innate sense of proportion. it's hard to get it right and she just does = whether or not you love her fabrics or her color schemes. i'm not really talking about those. I should have said that. It's more the way she gets the size right. like her headboards. that isn't easy. I can't tell you how much i have struggled with how tall a headboard should be etc.

  17. Noticed Joni has taken down post before this with some very interesting comments from people who seem to be in the local Houston decorating scene. this is getting very interesting....

    1. There were a couple of comments from folks who appeared to be in the Houston decorating/ design industry. You might want to locate them, for your own education.

  18. I always love reading your posts! I've been reading them for years and never tire of them! I am now a frequent visitor to Houston since my daughter lives there and is about to have her first child! I think of you often as we drive around that HUGE city! Love being there and would love any tips on where to eat and where to shop! Would love to see you as well! Hope you are ready for the holidays!

    1. email me! I could tell you some places. I once wrote about shopping around town. I probably should update it. also read Paper City. They really know the great places too.

  19. Kathryn has nice legs.

  20. I met Kathryn about 2 years ago and she is a delight. So talented and so nice! Love her work!

  21. The second picture, the one that says one of Kathryn's designs from decades ago, is my favorite. It's classic. The colors could vary, but the feeling is timeless.

  22. My favourite room was I think the 18th, the one she did for a client. The white walls, reds and beautifully patterned cushions. It has such warmth and personality, yet feels relaxed at the same time.
    Really enjoyed Millionaire Decorators - so interesting to see what the different designers created - and how they differed from each other in decorating styles and personalities and how they worked with their clients. Probably the additional attraction was the fact that they showed the little hissy fits between client and decorator and between decorator partners. Very amusing. Maybe too revealing, perhaps why it was canned. Best wishes, Pamela

    1. the 18th? what is that? episode? i LOVED that show! why did they cancel it? It might have been too hard to film? but omg, it was fabulous. The time kathryn got drunk in Palm Springs waiting on Martyn to finish work. That was hysterical. I have a feeling she likes a drink now and then.

    2. No, it was the 18th picture in your post (Think it was 18th) - the one with gold sunburst mirror white sofas and mostly red accents against white. Really loved that one.
      I remember that episode with Kathryn - it was so funny. Also another one with one of her clients when she appeared to have been dreadfully late - it just all seemed so unprofessional. Don't think she was alone in that. Some of the other decorators also seemed to be running late. Kind of surprising given they were billed as tops - the Millionaire decorators. There were also the spats between the two gay guys who were partners in business and life - until they split. Martyn pretty much seemed to take things in his stride - including having to deal with a "tired and a little emotional" Kathryn by the pool after he'd finished for the day.
      Yes, it was a guilty pleasure for me too. Was v disappointed when it was cancelled. Best wishes, Pamela

    3. Being late in L.A. is a way of life for lots of people. They blame it on the traffic, of course, but geez, you know there's just didn't leave your house early enough...again. It can get irritating, but some people's live are very important and busy and they just can't help it and are so sorry when they are late...every single time.

    4. If people are going to be more than 10 minutes late then they owe a phone call to advise the person who's waiting for them. Otherwise, unless there's been some kind of dire emergency, inexcusable. Doesn't matter whether it's California, Sydney or London. Always traffic in any city, it's no excuse for being more than 10 mins late without a call. Kathryn (much as I enjoyed her performances on Millionaire Decorators) or whoever. Really important people are normally extremely punctual as they tend to have very busy days and need to keep to schedules - and respect others' schedules. Pamela

    5. Two of my very favorite girlfriends are ALWAYS late. You just come to know it will be that way. There's always an excuse, but they are good people otherwise.

    6. With only one or two exceptions, most of my friends are always early. Not if coming to my house, but if meeting for coffee or lunch somewhere. It's because they were trained in punctuality from when they were young and applied this during busy working lives. They respect other people's time too much to keep them waiting. I feel the same, though I'm not always early, just on time, give or take five. I once worked for a while for a VIP who was always ten minutes early for everything and considered people late if they were actually on time! We do have friends (a married couple) who are always late every time - though they will give a call to warn. They just don't seem to be able to get their act together, though they are incredibly nice people. We expect it and don't get upset as we know them so well and for so long - but we are aware that other people get terribly annoyed with them, particularly if they're meeting them to attend a performance or movie. Pamela

  23. American designers are losing their sense of style to the point it becomes TACKY....

  24. For picture frames that move and end up crooked like the ones above the alcove in Kathryn's Santa Monica home, I always stick a bit of blue tack to the bottom corners and then press against the wall. No more moving, tilted pictures.

  25. Not a fan of throws and gazillions of pillows on the sofa. Not just because you'll have to move them away when you sit, but it looks cluttered and contrived. More is more doesn't always apply.

  26. I took a class on screen printing nearly a year ago, and let me tell you, it's not as easy as it looks! Creating the screens takes a long time, even for simple patterns, and they have to be precise. If you have any areas where the pattern is not finished, or where your pattern wasn't lifted, you'll have paint or dye come through the screen in areas you don't want. They have heavy wood frames around the screens, and creating screens like those, which appear to be 5-6 yards long, I just can't even imagine the weight of the frames. Each color requires a different screen, (a different pattern piece to the overall puzzle) and then it all has to be screened by hand, by two people it seems, and then lifted off, and the new color is poured on the new screen, and over and over and over. It's no wonder that these fabrics cost as much as they do! Great post Joni, well researched. I love the interiors of her new house, but there's something about her gravel courtyard/garden that just feels "off" to me? Not that I have any room to talk - she's surpassed a level of fame and fortune that I can't even fathom.

    1. on the video - she says it is like a dance between the two men. they have to apply the exact same pressure to the fabric and move at the time exact time. can't imagine. yes - they clean the screen off with water inbetween. it's insane. plus there is the cost of the fabric itself and that when the fabric comes from belgium, it always varies so it effects the final color. it could be because of the way the flax? or cotton? looked that month? crazy. just insane how hard that all is. she learned it from sally at raoul textiles.

    2. there is a Raoul outlet in santa barbara and you can get some pretty big remnants for pillows

  27. What a beautiful post, Joni, a tour-de-force on Kathryn's exquisite design style. Over the years, Kathryn has designed so many exceptional homes, for clients and for her own family. No matter what the space, you are so right, she gets the proportions absolutely spot on. Warm, inviting, each of her spaces look like someone could actually LIVE in them, which is not always true of other designer's work. Btw....I love the space of your design shown in Leslie's book Segreto Vignettes! Your designs always look amazing, and are also very livable. Thank you for all the work you put into each of your posts. Xo Lidy

    1. thanks!!!!! since Ben has been sick I've been devoting more of my time to blogging and less to design. But I miss it alot.

  28. Did you do a lot of term papers in school? This compendium of Ms. Ireland's work is a masterpiece! We are so that you chose to share your research and editing prowess to inform and entertain us! Thank you!

  29. we are so lucky....oops

    1. haha! I was thinking - huh? And no, I was a terrible student. I hated school!!!

  30. Her sofas have classic shapes but are so deep! Those huge pillows look great on them. How does she achieve that? Are their frames modified from the originals to have deeper seats? Would love to imitate that look.

    1. It is definitely the English way - she makes? or buys her own frames. those sofas in the showroom are in her own line. deep - with beautiful down cushions. it's just old fashioned and it cost a fortune. has to do with the insides, the springs and ties. it's all handmade of course.

    2. looks pretty but i am 5'4" and in a deep sofa my feet won't touch the floor . so i hate sitting on them even if they look good. men like sitting on them, sleeping on them, doing homework on them, watching videos of exiting sports on them

  31. What a wonderful extensive post! I'm curious about her next house. Do let us know whenever you find out about it. Though I'm not so bold, I love Ireland's colorful style and her mixes of patterns that actually work together (unlike a lot of the modern mixes I see). So refreshing after seeing years of stale neutrals or all white. (I like neutrals, too, but I think many use them to be 'safe' because they're afraid of color.) The Ojai house is still my favorite, too. Though her new house is more contemporary, it's not 'modern' but eclectic, with comfortable bits of English country style. Thank Goodness! Her rooms are never stuffy and feel like you could actually live in them. Love that turquoise Aga. Wish she had put in a pretty cornflower blue one in the new house. I wonder if she made any changes to the existing fixtures, appointments, and bones of the new house? It looks like she kept the existing envelope and just brought in her furnishings, with the exception of the dining room fixture. Otherwise, it seems fairly standard issue new Cali cottage contemporary.

    1. she should have put in a blue aga! that would have been beautiful. I can't figure it all out. everything is for sale. seems like she is having a mid life change. must be hard to have all the boys gone.

  32. Count me in the "throw" and "pillow" fun to "change out" for seasons, whims, etc. Mz Ireland has her OWN style and it appeals to me. Lots of good research...AGAIN!! Thanx!! franki

  33. Joni,
    Please do not ever be upset with a blog "mistake". We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy your work on Cote de Texas. I am amazed
    at the way you study design, what has gone before and what is current now. I am so appreciative. Best wishes for a nice holiday season!
    Thank you again .

  34. The hand printing process is so interesting. Just watched the video. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Hi Joni,.

    This was a long post so maybe I missed it, but how do you decide that something has "perfect" proportions? As an experienced decorator, do you use the Golden Mean or some other method to decide if something is perfectly proportioned? We non-professionals would like to know.

    Thank you.

  36. oh joni! this is a dream come true kind of post for me, a huge admirer of kathryn's. i was in touch with her last summer about castellane as i helped to promote her retreat in france. she said the boys would not let her sell the place! and i was so relieved to hear it remains in her care since she has created something so special. merci beaucoup for all this lovely to take in, and peace to you right where you are.

  37. Joni sei fantastica !! grazie a te la nostra vita ha preso un altro colore

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